Wild Silk & Co are not animal friendly alternatives

It is estimated that 1.6 trillion live animals are killed by gassing their cocoons each year to produce silk. [1] Fortunately, more and more people no longer want to cause animals suffering because of their clothes or bedding, because they realize that invertebrates also have a right to be protected from pain and suffering.

In response to this, many stores are increasingly offering products such as ‘wild silk’, ‘Ahimsa silk’ or ‘peace silk’ in place of traditional silk. They market these products as “animal friendly” or “organic” alternatives that claim not to kill any animals. Here you can find out what really lies behind these terms and why animals also suffer from this type of silk production.

What is wild silk?

The terms silk and wild silk are often equated, although there are similarities between them only in exceptional cases. Wild silk is primarily silk from undomesticated silk moths, most of which are raised outdoors. Many different methods can be used for this. In most cases, the term wild silk refers to tussa or tussah silk of the genus Entrea trading.

How is wild silk made?

Wild silk is almost always produced by controlled outdoor breeding. Depending on the country of production, individual production steps are carried out indoors. Like traditional silk production, wild silk production is in most cases a form of factory farming, and for this reason, diseases such as flat disease spread rapidly among animals and can kill entire populations.[4]

Much of the wild silk marketed is considered less “wild” than the term might suggest. Wild animals are used instead of pets. like in traditional silk production will silkworms this too killed by heat. wild silk Could you It is made according to the principles of ahimsa silk, as it is said that animals are not killed in their cocoons. [4]

Silk cocoons are boiled in water
Whether it is wild silk or traditional: the caterpillars are cooked alive in the cocoon.

What is Eri Silk?

Eri silk is also marketed as wild silk. In many cases, Erie silk comes from the domesticated silk moth Samia Raisini. Wild forms of the Erie silkworm are rarely used. Eri Spinner naturally builds an opening in his cocoon through which he can appear as a butterfly without cutting the thread. Therefore, many people on Airyside assume that the animal was unharmed. However, in many areas, cocoons are traded as a delicacy for human consumption and are also killed. In addition, some animals are manually removed from the cocoon at an early stage to avoid thread contamination. Because as they leave the cocoon, the mites secrete a brown liquid, called meconium, which reduces the value of the silk and makes cleaning more difficult.

Since silk production is so minimal and the fibers are often produced by many individual families, it is almost impossible to verify whether the animals were actually allowed to live in the cocoons or whether they were heat-killed, removed from their cocoons early, or even eaten.

What is Ahimsa Silk and Peace Silk?

For Ahimsa silk, in most cases, the same silk moths are bred as in traditional silk production. Mostly of mulberry silk or Eri silk or the so-called Tussar silk.

The term ahimsa comes from the Hindi language and means “non-violence”. The manufacturers pledge that no animals will be slaughtered for ahimsa’s silk, and that the silkworm is allowed to complete its transformation from a pupa to a moth without being cremated alive. However, upon leaving its cocoon, the moth creates a hole that cuts through the endless silk threads in many places. The loss of quality silk is accepted in order to market it as ahimsa silk or peace silk. However, some manufacturers also cut the cocoons from the cocoon at an early stage to prevent the animals from contaminating them with the aforementioned meconium. [2] If the animal is not sufficiently developed when cut, it will have no chance of survival. There is also a risk of injuring or killing animals when the cocoon is opened.

silk cocoons
Some manufacturers cut dolls out of the cocoon early. It can happen that animals are killed.

Because of silk cutting, less silk is produced per cocoon than traditional production, and this has to be spun at great cost. As a result, up to six times as many animals are exploited to produce ahimsa silk as the same amount of traditional silk. [3] This makes it clear that animals also lose out with this system.

Consequences of excessive breeding of silk moth

In most cases, ahimsa silk is not considered a form of wild silk, but rather an exploitation of domesticated species, particularly silk Bombex More. [5] Even if the animal is saved from heat death, it will usually die after turning into a butterfly. Thousands of years of over-hybridization have ensured that Bombex More Unable to fly and therefore has little chance of surviving.

Another consequence of over-breeding is the enormous susceptibility of many silk mites to disease and parasites. Regardless of the animal species, the pressure of the disease is much higher than in nature due to mass reproduction in a small area. As a result, depending on the country and region, 10 to 47 percent of all silk mites get sick and often die a slow, hard death. [6] These breeding atrocities with Ahimsa silk cannot be ruled out and lead to the widespread use of disinfectants.

Killed in the name of ‘Quality Control’ – also for Ahimsa Silk

So called quality controls are implemented in silk production – regardless of whether a wild or domesticated silk moth has been selected for ahimsa silk production. For this purpose, female animals and part of their eggs are crushed or cut alive to be examined for diseases under a microscope. Once the animal is infected with viruses, bacteria, or parasites, entire colonies or at least the crushed offspring of the mother animal are killed and disposed of. [6, 7, 8]

Also of concern is the question of how all silk moths are cared for in ahimsa silk production. Many insects have very specific requirements for their habitat and cannot survive anywhere “just like this” if released into the wild.

If animals develop diseases during “quality control”, sometimes entire colonies are killed.

Silk lottery: no clarity for consumers

No one has control over the manner in which ahimsa silk was ultimately produced, and the term can include many different practices. The biggest defender of ahimsa silk is Kusuma Rajaya, a former government official from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Owns the copyright, logo and trademark rights of “Ahimsa Silk”. However, silk is mainly produced and traded without regulation: [2]

  • Some producers use torture breeding, others use wild animals.
  • Some let the moths hatch from the cocoons on their own, others cut them by hand.
  • The use of chemicals in silk processing or pesticides in the cultivation of animal feed is also completely unregulated. Some manufacturers rely on the full chemical club, while others prefer more ecological processes.
  • Animals can be raised outdoors as well as in sterile rooms.

Consumers can usually only guess how much “nonviolence” and “sustainability” are hiding behind individual products.

But even certified silk, which can be returned to breeding farms and produced according to clear rules, does not change the fact that living things are always exploited to produce silk – with all the negative consequences of the mass breeding of animals for people, animals and nature.

The production of animal silk stems from a species mentality

It does not matter how and where silk is produced and whether animals are allowed to leave their cocoons alive or to be burned in them: silk production has always depended on the exploitation of living things. Insects are also part of our planet. We humans have no right to turn them into tormenting breeds, like inanimate objects, to breed and trade with them.

The decision to use animals to make human clothing depends on the mindset of the species. Here man places himself above other living beings and classifies them according to their supposed use for his purposes.

stop banner species

Use animal friendly materials

The introduction of “better breeding conditions” or “animal welfare labels” often delays the development of animal-free innovations. We can help animals more efficiently by drawing on the wide range of plant alternatives that exist today and by encouraging the development of new innovations.

Therefore, leave not only traditional silk on the shelf, but also Ahimsa silk and wild silk and instead use viscose, Pima cotton, or lyocell fibers such as Modal or Tencel.

  • sources

    [1] International Commission for Audio Culture (2017): The Silk Industry, Statistics, http://inserco.org/en/statistics (Accessed 26.08.2021)

    [2] Aishwarya d. S. (2020): Intriguing dimensions of vegetable silk/Ahamsa. Indian Textiles Magazines – January 2020 Edition; p. 108 – 112

    [3] Fashion United (2021): The story of peace silk: making the right choice, https://fashionunited.com/news/fashion/the-story-of-peace-silk-making-the-right-choice/2021041539464 (d. Accessed on 03/28/2022

    [4] Datta, RK (2008): Global Silk Industry: A Complete Source Book, APH Publishing

    [5] Ahimsa Silks (2022): About Us, http://www.ahimsasilks.com/aboutus/ (Accessed 03-28-2022)

    [6] Tayal MK, Chauhan TPS (2017): Silkworm diseases and pests. In: Amkar (Eds.) Industrial Entomology. Springer, Singapore.

    [7] Aruga, Hisao (1994): Principles of Silkworm Breeding, AA Balkema, Rotterdam, pp. 349 ff

    [8] Beauty Without Cruelty – India (2021): So-called “Ahimsa Silk”, http://bwcindia.org/Web/Awareness/LearnAbout/SocalledAhimsaSilk.html (accessed 14.03.2022)

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